by Colin Campbell
I AM absolutely delighted to be joining Her Majesty the Queen in receiving my second dose of the coronavirus vaccine this week.
She received hers a couple of days ago, as emblazoned in yesterday’s headlines, and Friday’s the day for me.
It is a joy and a privilege to share this momentous experience with the most famous and most admired woman in the world, even if the connection between us in other respects admittedly may be somewhat tenuous.
One of the most memorable days in my 45-year career in newspapers was in following the Queen around the corridors and wards in the early 1980s when she opened a new wing of Raigmore Hospital. Raigmore has never and probably never again will see so many happy, smiling faces among patients, staff, and especially children in the hospital, who she spent so much time with.
As one of a tiny “pool” of two reporters and two photographers, we were for more than two hours little more than a yard away from her and noted down her every word.
Would the Queen get the same near-ecstatic reaction now as she did then?
Or has nationalist poison infected Scotland to the point where not even the Monarch would now receive a universally warm welcome?
While some nationalists no doubt continue to hold the Queen in the highest regard, others loathe the royal family and an absolute priority for them in a new independent Scotland would be ridding their new “free” nation of them for good.
Recently a vile attack on the Queen and Prince Philip was printed in the independence-supporting National, as nasty a piece of invective as you’ll find anywhere.
Of the Queen, a “columnist” said: “The extent of the Royals’ wealth remains unknown, in part due to the Queen successfully pressing the UK Parliament into conceal her family’s immense fortune.
“In 2011 the head of state also tried to divert money earmarked for low-income schools instead into covering the cost of heating Buckingham Palace.”
And of the Duke of Edinburgh: “Philip’s history is in my opinion a catalogue of sexist, racist and ignorant statements made to people without the power to tell him where to shove it – and this is the man we’ll soon be expected to bow our heads in sadness for.”
This disgusting creep of a “columnist” was no doubt referring to the fact that Prince Philip, aged 99, had been seriously ill and had only just left hospital after a lengthy spell of recovery.
This was an example of the mindset of some elements within the nationalist movement, and the fact that in an independent Scotland any current pretence at wanting to retain links with the Monarchy would be swept away by the hate-mongers and zealots.
The Queen I believe will still be our Monarch for some time after the rival factions in the SNP/nationalists have ripped each other to shreds – they’re well on their way to that now – and the independence movement has imploded.
The stark difference in fairness and perspective between those who wish to remain in the United Kingdom and many of those who wish to break away from it is illustrated by reaction to the vaccination programme, which is far ahead of Italy, Germany, France and other EU countries.
After a rocky start I am perfectly willing to give Nicola Sturgeon credit for speeding up the vaccine rollout and managing it efficiently, so that I, in my mid-60s, can get the second jab at this stage from the superb staff of the NHS.
But many nationalists would refuse to give the UK Government, and particularly Boris Johnson, one syllable of credit for their world-leading foresight in securing adequate vaccine supplies for the four home nations.
But these people are in a minority.
The SNP/nationalists I believe are not going to do as well in the May elections as they believe they will even now, and the outcome will be a bitter disappointment compared with what they anticipated at the height of their triumphalist arrogance a few months ago.
The Queen won’t be voting on May 6. But I and many others will, and the extraordinary, lifesaving success of the UK vaccination programme from Land’s End to John O’Groats is an overwhelmingly good reason to support parties committed to our national bonds remaining intact.